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Jim, do you or you wife have any thoughts?

A fast newtonian will give you coma error for off-axis images. How much of a problem this is depends on what you want to do. For deep sky faint images you'll never notice it. Looking at things like open clusters, it will be quite visible. For planetary observations, you will probably want to mask it down.

I think I would pay more attention to the mounts (both scope mount and mirror mount) than anything else (after, of course, selecting aperture). For equal $$ I would probably go smaller aperture to get a better mount. Of course, the ideal is to get the biggest aperture you can (you can always mask it if you need to), but a shakey mount or an unreliable mirror mount will ruin the experience.

The scope we have here is a 9" Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector.
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